A review by Mr Not Delia
We went and stayed in the Aloft Hotel in Bangkok’s trendy Sukhumvit Soi 11 a couple of weeks ago (and you can read our review of it on British Expat here). Because of an unfortunate mix-up on the part of the guy who checked us in, we were given the wrong room. By way of making it up to us, the staff at Aloft gave us a free breakfast. So it seemed like a good opportunity to see what’s on offer.
The breakfast buffet is set up in the Crave restaurant on the eighth floor. The entrance to Crave is quite inviting if you’re a wine aficionado: a cornucopia of all sorts of different bottles, arranged by grape. Those who’ve been over-indulging the night before might find the reminder of the joys of the bottle a bit too much to take first thing in the morning, but who cares?
The staff are friendly and all seem to wear bright smiles. They’re not overly chirpy, though, thank goodness. The room itself is comfortable, too; there are enough windows and blinds to make it feel open and spacious, without it being overly lit or raucously loud. It remains a restaurant without tipping over the line into being a canteen. For those who like to sit outside, there’s a whole seating area available, though the tables didn’t appear to have been laid. Presumably you just ask for a table out there if you want one and they’ll set one up for you.
The choice of food is pretty much what you’d expect from an international chain’s breakfast buffet in South East Asia: the usual Western hot and cold offerings, as well as some Asian breakfast staples, some salads and a smattering of the host country’s food.
As always in Asia, Chinese cuisine gets a look-in; here it was pork buns and pork dumplings. Thailand’s contribution was the usual choice of fresh fruit, plus some pork with chilli and garlic. Much though I like pork, it seemed a bit early in the day for chilli and garlic so I gave that a miss. The miso soup might have gone down well if I’d been in the mood.
The bread station was well set up, with three kinds of sliced bread as well as some quite tasty-looking unsliced loaves. There were plenty of pastries on offer too. The toaster came with a warning not to adjust the setting, but someone had clearly ignored that because I had to put my couple of slices through twice before they were done.
The deli offerings were a little disappointing. The cold cut offerings were some rather dismal-looking salami along with two kinds of finely-minced mortadella-type stuff. The salad stuff next door looked attractive enough, although there were one or two things there that I wasn’t too sure of! I was mystified by the apparent absence of cheese, which I eventually found up at the other end of the buffet island between the cereals (five different kinds) and the fruit. There were three on offer: Brie, blue cheese and Edam, together with some dried fruit.
The hot Western breakfast was fairly typical. Unfortunately the plates were cold, and I made the additional mistake of ordering my eggs after I’d plated up everything else. So by the time I sat down, a lot of my food was either cold or luke-warm. Still:
- Two kinds of very processed-looking sausage, pork and chicken. I passed on those.
- Roast potatoes, in some kind of herby mix with paprika. Potatoes in Thailand are often over-sweet, and roast potatoes rapidly lose their appeal once they’ve been out of the oven for a while. These ones weren’t too bad, considering, but the fact they were tepid didn’t help them.
- Sautéed mushrooms and tomatoes. I tried the mushrooms but not the tomatoes, which looked a bit shrivelled. The mushrooms were cold and soggy.
- Baked beans. Not Heinz, but OK-ish – apart from being cold.
- Bacon. As usual, streaky rather than back. Rather chewy. But they’d put a slice of bread in to soak up excess fat, so at least it wasn’t greasy.
- Eggs. I asked for a two-egg omelette with cheese, onion and peppers. (Ham and tomato were also on offer.) It was very nice – the onions were lightly fried and caramelised in places, and the cheese was thoroughly melted and gooey. High marks for this one.
They also had waffles and Scotch pancakes.
There weren’t many juices on offer: just pineapple juice and orange juice. I had a glass of the orange, which was rather sweet but tasted fresh – I’m sure it was made from local oranges. Full cream milk, soya milk and water were also available.
The coffee was a bit of a mixed experience. When I arrived, I was shown to a table and offered a choice of tea or coffee.
The first cup of coffee I ordered came in a moderate-sized vacuum jug. It wasn’t all that hot, and wasn’t all that strong. However, by the time I’d been round gathering my food, it had been cleared away. So I asked for another.
The replacement was piping hot and a much better brew altogether. And the jug was good for three generous cups, which must save the staff a lot of time and effort in replenishing hot drinks. One waiter suddenly appeared with a small jug of hot milk; he’d evidently noticed me emptying the milk jug on my table into my first cup. They’re on the ball here! It was also nice to be reminded pleasantly at 1020 that service would finish at 1030, thus allowing a decent amount of time to satisfy any remaining hunger pangs. (I didn’t have any.)
Overall rating: 3½ out of 5
It’s a mixed experience. The food is OK, but nothing special; the selection’s fairly limited; and the cold plates let it down. But it’s a nice place to sit and have breakfast, and the staff are very good. I wouldn’t make a special effort to get up for it, but I might wander down if I woke up feeling hungry.